There are certain memories that just stick better than others. Once such recent memory was in September 2015. Siobhan and I had just spent the summer apart, and were preparing to return to Seville, this time to live in the city following a year living in towns outside it.
Siobhan flew out a week earlier. I would have joined, but for my sister’s graduation from UCD. Staying felt like the right thing to do – one last gesture of goodwill before not returning for at least 3 months. The downside, Siobhan was left on her own to find a flat. I tried to ease the situation by asking Ana, a friend of mine to help her with viewings. It was the least I could do.
It was obvious from the messages that Siobhan was finding it difficult to view and choose a place without me being there in person. She sent photo after photo, but you know how even the smartest of real estate adverts often play tricks on the eye. With time running out between my arrival and us starting work, Siobhan (with a little help from yours truly afar) decided on a lovely old building, down a lovely old street, in the lovely old town of Seville. ‘I’m never doing that on my own again,’ continues to ring in my ears.
There was something beautiful about our area in the beginning. We fell in love with it almost instantly. During peak tourist season, local plazas were always busy and vibrant. It was colourful and you were never far from a café or restaurant if you were ever lazy. Affinities were also struck up with local bakeries and greengrocers. Following a year living in small, quiet towns you could excuse our excitement.
But, slowly, the novelty began to erode away. Our love affair lasted around 15 months. Although a rush at the beginning things were starting to go a little stale. An extended tourist season didn’t help, despite how good it is for the city. Our first winter witnessed a calming lull of tourists between December and March, whereas the following winter felt like a never-ending extension of the summer. We’ll never look like locals but there are only so many times you can be asked if you are interested in the city’s open-top bus on your commute to work.
A new bar up the street didn’t help. Up until its opening (or re-opening according to friends here) our street had been a quiet escape from the tourist traps. Those found on our street often looked lost, desperately seeking a way through the labyrinth of Seville’s Old Town to somewhere wider and open. Instead of being a local bar, Carbonería decided to attract tour groups to it’s ‘authentic’ flamenco dinner shows (trust me, it’s nowhere near it). The result, scores of loud, tipsy tourists streaming on to the street when you’re trying to turn in for the night.
With our love affair dead we decided to look elsewhere. It was time for a change. It was time to find a place with a little more charm, and somewhere a little out of the average tourist’s view. Where? Find out in part two…